Reports: Glaxo, Sanofi bidding on Piramal

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis are reported to be jockeying for Indian generic drugmaker Piramal Healthcare in an auction that could bring up to $1.5 billion. Piramal is India's fourth largest pharma firm, producing generic prescription meds and OTC products in nine therapeutic areas. Piramal also has custom manufacturing companies in North America, Europe and Asia.

Buying Piramal would further Glaxo's strategy of expanding aggressively into developing countries. The company has spent almost $1 billion on emerging market assets recently, including $210 million for Bristol-Myers Squibb's Egyptian operations and its holdings in Pakistan. And just recently it forked over $667 million to UCB for a raft of drug rights in 50 countries.

Sanofi has been on the acquisition trail, too: New CEO Chris Viehbacher has reportedly been negotiating for bank financing for potential deals. And its buyout of the Czech generics maker Zentiva just got the European Commission's conditional approval last week.

Sources close to the matter say the deal is still in the early stages. A GSK spokesperson had nothing to say about a possible deal. "We don't comment on rumor and speculation," he told FiercePharma. Meanwhile, Piramal flat-out denied that the company was entertaining bids. "It has come to our attention that certain sections of the media have been speculating about a potential sale of the company,"the company said in a media release. "We would like to clarify that this is totally unfounded."

- see the WSJ report
- check out Piramal's response
- read the story in The Times